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Mascots selected for 2014 Sochi Olympics leave some people cold

February 28, 2011 |  1:28 pm

Bear_150The choice for the mascot of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was left up to popular vote. But the mascots that were ultimately chosen don't seem to be that popular.

Three mascots -- a snow leopard, a polar bear and a rabbit -- were selected Saturday during a nationwide broadcast in Russia, during which viewers voted by telephone and text message for their favorites among nine candidates.

But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev questioned whether the outcome actually reflected the will of the people, saying Monday there was “dissonance” between those results and earlier unofficial Internet voting.

Leopard_150 Artis Viktor Chizhov told Ekho Moskvy radio that the polar bear is basically a rip-off of his creation, Misha the bear, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics -- “the eyes, nose, mouth, smile … I don't like it when they steal, a creator feels this very sharply.”

Sergei Mironov, leader of the Just Russia party, said the polar bear looks too much like the emblem of United Russia, the country's dominant party, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

And politician Vladimir Zhrinovsky feels all three mascots are an insult to Russia. The leopard is “a bloodthirsty animal, it doesn't evoke any happiness. The bear is a most stupid animal. And the rabbit is a coward, it's always running,” he said, as  quoted by the news agency Interfax.

Rabbit_125 The head of the Sochi organizing committee stands by the selection process.

“The procedure that we chose was the most accessible and massive way of expressing will that we have in this country,” Dmitry Chernyshenko said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: The mascots of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Credit: AFP Photo / The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee